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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Site only change in Ray's routine
Rocco Baldelli seems on target for a July return as he flies in to continue to rehab his knee.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published February 9, 2005
[Times photo: James Borchuck]
Head trainer Ken Crenshaw oversees Rocco Baldelli during his first day of workouts at the Naimoli complex.
[Times photo: James Borchuck]
The scar on Rocco Baldelli's knee marks a reconstructed ACL, injured while he played with his brother.
ST. PETERSBURG - Ho, hum, just another day in the rehabilitation of Rocco Baldelli's left knee.
Just another three-hour session of flexibility exercises, manipulating his kneecap so scar tissue doesn't form, strengthening the joint by working out with a stretch rope, doing squats without weights and balancing on his left foot.
Nothing dramatic, said the Devil Rays centerfielder, who had surgery Dec. 5 to reconstruct the anterior cruciate ligament. Nothing, he added, of which to really speak.
"I wish I had some exciting news to tell you," Baldelli said.
So we take what we can get.
Baldelli's workout Tuesday at the Raymond A. Naimoli Baseball Complex was his first since returning last week to the Tampa Bay area from his family's home in Cumberland, R.I.
Baldelli said he likely will begin jogging next week, and, as far as he can tell, he is making steady progress, meaning his anticipated recovery time of six to nine months could still keep him out of the lineup until July.
His left leg looks pretty much like his right except for the red scar running the length of his kneecap and a shorter purple scar at the bottom of his thigh.
Baldelli admitted the situation is frustrating - "As far as baseball activities, I can't do anything" - but added he doesn't dwell.
He won't even get caught up complaining about the unglamorous way he was hurt: sidestepping a collision with younger brother Dante while playing backyard baseball.
"There's no need to do that," Baldelli said of lamenting his luck. "Do I want to look back on being miserable again? No. So I just put it behind me.
"I'm not going to sit here and be all depressed. I want to play and I'm asking the trainers, "Can I do this or do that?' And they're saying no. I want to be out there, but I know I'm not going to be."
And the Rays' outfield plans are still in flux.
Baldelli, 23, batted .280 in 136 games last season with a career-high 16 home runs and 74 RBIs. He and leftfielder Carl Crawford were supposed to make up one of the majors' best outfield combinations. And there were expectations both would hit more than 20 home runs.
Crawford moved to center after Baldelli's injury, and leftfield appeared to be handed to free-agent acquisition Danny Bautista. But when Jose Cruz was dealt to the Diamondbacks on Sunday, Bautista seemed headed for rightfield with Aubrey Huff going to left.
What happens when Baldelli is healthy remains to be seen. After spending one day with him, Rays trainer Ken Crenshaw was not about to speculate on when that could be.
"This was his first day at the complex," Crenshaw said. "But at this point, Rocco looks to be on schedule. We'll continue to rehab him and follow up with his doctors. When they say he's ready to begin baseball activity, then we will be ready to go."
In the meantime, Baldelli has found ways to amuse himself.
He said he was at Sunday's Super Bowl rooting for the Patriots, and his down time between rehab sessions has allowed him to concentrate on a growing interest in real estate.
"I'll probably go drive around (Tuesday)," Baldelli said. "Go look around. I've probably called more real estate companies than I can count."
Baldelli said he even goes to city offices to check out foreclosure and auction information.
"I do everything," he said. "I try to find out as much information as I can about what's going on in the area, whether it's looking at foreclosures or whatever. Just see if the numbers work."
Baldelli's main focus, though, is getting his knee to work. It is tedious and draining, and there is not, Baldelli maintained, much to talk about.
"It's still a little swollen," he said, comparing his left leg with his right. "Nothing major going on."
RAYS SIGN TWO: Tampa Bay announced it signed infielder Jorge Cantu to a one-year contract. It also signed outfielder Tom Goodwin to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training. Cantu, 23, batted .301 in 50 games last season as a rookie with two home runs, 17 RBIs and 20 doubles. Goodwin, 36, eighth among active players with 369 stolen bases, batted .200 last season with three RBIs in 77 games with the Cubs, for whom he was mainly a pinch hitter.